Saranac Lake as an art center

I work at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid three days a week, more or less, and deal directly with visitors to the area. After I have regaled them with my intimate knowledge of the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, I get a chance to tell them about Saranac Lake -?the Winter Carnival, Historic Saranac Lake, the Carousel, BluSeed Studios, the art exhibits and the Third Thursday Art Walks among others.

Now, imagine what a thrill when I came across the following art stories in the archives of the Adirondack Room at the Saranac Lake Free Library.

The title on this column is as true today as when it appeared as a quote in a November, 1938 copy of the Enterprise.

“Mrs. Audrey MacMahon, regional director of federal art projects will also speak on ‘Saranac Lake as an Art Center.’ Several other speakers are scheduled to address the meeting which is open to the public.”

Here is the meeting referred to:

“A federal art caravan, housing a permanent art collection and accompanied by several prominent artists, will arrive in Saranac Lake on Nov. 14, Mrs. Blair D. Jones, chairman of the Citizen’s Art Committee of this village, announced today.

“Arrival of the caravan also touches off the federal art project which will employ six local artists in painting, pottery and commercial art.

“The painting exhibit of the caravan will be on display at the Harrietstown town hall on Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. At 8 o’clock the same evening, Judson Smith, distinguished American artist of Woodstock, will address an open meeting on creative art.

“Under preliminary plans for the local project, three artists will be employed at first with three others added at a later date. Of the first three, one will be chosen for pottery work, one for oil and water color paintings and the other for commercial art including posters and lettering.

“Plans for the project provide that the work to be completed by the artists will be allocated to local agencies such as the town hall, the high school, the post office and other public institutions.”

[I wonder if any of those works are collecting dust in those respective institutions?]

Artist Amy Jones [The Enterprise October and December 1938]

“Amy Jones, widely known local artist and painter, received word today that the four water color paintings which she submitted to the fall exhibit of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts had been accepted by the selection committee.

“Mrs. Jones sent in two large paintings, one entitled ‘Apple Tree’, the other, ‘Dorsey Street in Winter.’ The other two were smaller subjects entitled, ‘Indian Teepee’ and ‘Country Circus on a Rainy Day.’ Acceptance of these paintings is a mark of high recognition as the exhibition is one of the most important in the east.

“Mrs. Jones has also sent in an oil painting entitled, ‘Slalom Race’ and a water coloring of a scene near Keene, to the exhibition of the Pattern Society of Buffalo which is being held in the Riverside Museum in New York City.”

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“Amy Jones has been invited to show her water color entitled, ‘Saranac River’ at the International Water Color exhibit of the Chicago Art Exhibit. The picture will be on display at the exhibition which opens in Chicago in March.

WPA?arts project

The acronym, WPA, was so well know in the 1930s that the newspaper stories did not bother to use the accepted rule in a news report to write; Works Progress Administration (WPA) and then use the acronym in the rest of the story. It was a huge federal aid program during the depression.

The Enterprise, Nov. 26, 1938:

“A conference on the proposal to have the Village of Saranac Lake participate in a WPA-sponsored art project for this community was held yesterday. Mayor Thomas P. Ward was met by a committee composed of members of the Saranac Lake Art League. No conclusion was reached on the subject.

“The movement for the erection of a WPA art project in Saranac Lake followed the arrival of an art caravan and the launching of an exhibit at the Town Hall last week.

“It was said that the community’s cost would be $800 to $1,200 a year and the project would put 12 artists to work on WPA time.”